My Childhood Friend, the Barcode Scanner

I worked at a supermarket for 3 years as a cashier when I was in high school and I loved almost every minute of it. I even had a favorite bar code scanner  (#22) which I sincerely believed was better than the rest. I cleaned it well and it almost never failed to scan accurately. When I punched out, I would sometimes buy myself dinner and wait to be checked out by #22. I used to think that items checked out using my scanner were somehow more special.

I recently stopped by the Tailgate market here in Flat Rock, NC. For such a small market, they provide an extraordinary array of produce, cheeses and meats. There is even a fisherman who unloads Carolina shrimp off the back of his pickup truck. Last week I met a farmer who was selling perfectly sweet grape tomatoes as well as a few heirlooms. She frequently brings her two young kids who help out a bit. I put a couple handfulls on the scale. “Three dollars,” she said. I had only a twenty which she said she couldn’t break. “Don’t worry about it. Just come back in 2 weeks. I’ll get it then. Also, take a bag of arugula and some purple heirlooms on the house. It’s hot today and I’d love to get rid of this stuff before I leave for vacation.”

I later found out that she supplies many of the vegetables for Husk in Charleston, SC one of the country’s premiere farm to table restaurants which was recently named the best new restaurant in the US by Bon Appetit. She was on her way to dine there with her husband. Apparently, farmers are serious VIP’s at Husk (as they probably should be). I left with my large bag of vegetables and the same $20 bill I had arrived with.

The salad that night of arugula and heirloom tomatoes was very good. I do like bargains but I don’t think it tasted better because many of the ingredients were free. To be honest, I’m not even sure it tasted better because they were fresh. But it may have tasted better because I knew a little bit  about the person who produced the food. I knew she was en route to Charleston for her first vacation of the year and I knew they had arranged for a babysitter for the night so she and her husband could enjoy Husk.

I certainly knew a bit about the scanner from my high school days as well but nothing about its children, it’s vacations, or its spouse. I realize in retrospect that my relationship with the scanner was a bit shallow. It might have been because I was young but I’m wondering now (and here me out on this)  if a bar code scanner might not be so good at friendship regardless of the circumstance.

Farmers are another story though. I know many of you have written in and have spoken about your favorite farmers. I’d love to hear more about the farmers you know and love. Feel free to post stories, pics, or recipes.

Thank you.

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